Bhagvat Gita Chapter 2 slok 12-
na tv evaham jatu nasam
na tvam neme janadhipah
na caiva na bhavisyamah
sarve vayam atah param
na--never; tu--but; eva--certainly; aham--I; jatu--become; na--never; asam--existed; na--it is not so; tvam--yourself; na--not; ime--all these; jana-adhipah--kings; na--never; ca--also; eva--certainly; na--not like that; bhavisyamah--shall exist; sarve--all of us; vayam--we; atah param--hereafter.
Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.

Bhagvat Gita Chapter 2 Slok 24

acchedyo 'yam adahyo 'yam
akledyo 'sosya eva ca
nityah sarva-gatah sthanur
acalo 'yam sanatanah
acchedyah--unbreakable; ayam--this soul; adahyah--cannot be burned; ayam--this soul; akledyah--insoluble; asosyah--cannot be dried;eva--certainly; ca--and; nityah--everlasting; sarva-gatah--all-pervading;sthanuh--unchangeable; acalah--immovable; ayam--this soul;sanatanah--eternally the same.
This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

That is what Sanatan means as it is eternal or you can say primordial, begining when so called universe created. For millions of years there was a fight between good and bad ,which you could name Hero and Villain or God and Demon, and at last good triumphs, righteousness triumphs as has been proofed in past and in future also.
By its nature, Sanatana Dharma is:
Experience based rather than belief based.Without any ideological divisions.Beyond any historical date of founding.The process of growth, which comes from the seed.Inherent in, and inclusive of all.Applicable to all people of all places and times.In the world, while above the world.God-entered rather than prophet-centered.Devoid of sectarianism or denominationalism.Both immanent and transcendent.The whole and the parts.Loving of all and excluding of none.The universal flow of Dharma,regardless of what name you call it,whether Dharma or some other name,has eternally existed.It has been before any of the great teachers were born.It is not better than,or alternative to,but is inclusive of all. Dharma is that out of which our earth and humanity itself emerged.Dharma not only is,but always was, and always will be.To live in alignment with,and to know the true nature of that Sanatana Dharma is one of the ways of describing the higher goal of life. 
 Swami Rama: The words "religion" and "dharma" denote two entirely different concepts and perspectives. Religion is comprised of rituals, customs, and dogmas surviving on the basis of fear and blind faith. Dharma--a word, unfortunately, with no English equivalent--encapsulates those great laws and disciplines that uphold, sustain, and ultimately lead humanity to the sublime heights of worldly and spiritual glory. Established in the name of God, a religion is an institution that requires a growing number of adherents for its expansion and future existence. A religion discriminates against human beings who do not belong to its particular order and condemns their way of living and being, whereas dharma is eternal, looking for no followers for its propagation. With no discrimination whatsoever, it leads a human being beyond the realms of man-made, institutionalized dictums. Instead of creating fear of God, it makes God manifest in the human heart, not in an anthropomorphic form, but as the absolute and universal One in whom all diversities reside in perfect harmony.

video link-SANATAN DHARM
The words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" are described in different ways by different people. The origins and usages of the terms are not universally agreed upon. As you'll see in the references below, "Hindu" and "Hinduism" have been variously used to describe one or another of culture, geography, or religion. Some say that the terms were not used by the indigenous people until fairly recently in history, brought on by foreign peoples and governments, not their own evolution. Many say that the original collective term used for the diverse teachings of this region of the world is "Dharma" or "Sanatana Dharma." There is some impetus in the world today to advocate these terms, either along side of, or instead of the terms "Hindu" and "Hinduism." Yet, it is also useful to know and bear in mind that some advocates of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism" can be very aggressive towards those who are not, but instead prefer the concept of Dharma. This aggression can be strongly experienced by practitioners of pure non-theistc yoga, which is not necessarily linked with or promoting of any of the various sects of deity worship.
A comparison that should clarify the situation is to consider that "Hindu" has historically related to a geographic region. Then reflect on the geographic regions of Africa, America (including north, central, and south), and Europe (or any other region of the world). Imagine for a moment that somebody tried to talk to you about "religions" known as Africanism, Americanism and Europeanism. Anything that had ever been done in Europe, for example, in the name of spiritual or religious practice throughout human history would be lumped under one umbrella "religion" which had various denominations, sects or orders of "Europeanism". So too, all of the practices done by any of the historical peoples in the Americas would be considered to be part of the "Americanism" religion.
Imagine you live in the United States or Canada and somebody asks you "Why does your religion practice human sacrifice?" Just because some people have done this in the past in particular locations, this obviously does not mean the human sacrifice is a part of some overarching religion of "Americanism", much less that you practice this because of being resident of the Americas.
Imagine that you live in one of the modern European countries and that you are asked about your personal relationship with Thor, the "Europeanism" god of Thunder. Just because there are historical religious practices in relation to Thor, this does not mean that there is a "Europeanism" with this view, or than any person in modern Europe can be presumed to follow this god.
These examples are similar to what has happened in the "religion" of Hinduism. Africa, America, Europe and Hindustan ("Hindu land", is one of the popular names of India) each have their own unique and beautiful characteristics. However, it is a gross distortion of the realities of religion and spiritual practices to refer to these as "religions" of Africanism, Americanism, Europeanism and Hinduism.
Even if there is such a thing as 'Hinduism' it is an illogical confusion to say that the part is the whole, in this case that Yoga is Hinduism. Is it proper to refer to a tennis player, a golfer, a cricket player, or a football player only as an 'athlete', while ignoring the particular sports skill that one possesses and practices? To say that one is a 'golfer' says something rather clear, but to just say he is an athlete says virtually nothing without acknowledging that first and foremost, he is a golfer. So too is the case with Yoga. While there are surely people who think of themselves as Yogis and Hindus, with one being part of the other, this is not a necessity or generally accurate.
Many similar examples can be thought of. For example, an apple is an apple. If you want an apple, you ask for an apple. You do not merely ask for a fruit and then quietly hope for an apple. The category 'fruit' is irrelevant when what you specifically want is an apple.
In my own tradition, Swami Rama has made it quite clear that ours is a meditative tradition of the Himalayan caves, emphasizing Yoga, and has nothing to do with any of the institutions in the plains of India. He has written clearly of these points in Living with the Himalayan Masters, Enlightenment without God, and A Call to Humanity.
Below are some quotes on the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism." These references are not intended as academic or scholarly proofs or arguments used to win a debate. Because they are only offered as a most general overview, source information is not included. It is also not intended that any of these quotes are necessarily more or less authoritative than others, but rather to provide enough discussion that it's easy for the reader to get a clear feel for the issue. It's easy to find many such references through internet searches and books. Through one's own research and reflection, each person can draw his or her own conclusions about the meanings and uses of the words "Hindu" and "Hinduism," as well as the words "Dharma" and "Sanatana Dharma." (Scroll down to the bottom for a list that is in date order, as well as a Wikipedia description.)
"The word 'Hindu' occurs nowhere in the classical scriptures of Hinduism. The ancestors of the present day Hindus did not identify themselves as Hindus."
"When Western scholars and Christian missionaries arrived on the scene, the Hindus found their faith tradition 'ism'-ized and its name became 'Hinduism'."
"That even an atheist may be called a Hindu is an example of the fact that Hinduism is far beyond a simple religious system, but actually an extremely diverse and complicated river of evolving philosophies and ancient traditions."
"The word Hindu is not a religious word. It is secular in origin. It is derived from the word Sindhu, which is the name of a major river that flows in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. The ancient Greeks and Armenians used to refer the people living beyond the river Sindhu as Hindus and gradually the name stuck. When the Muslims came to the sub continent they called the people living in the region as Hindustanis to distinguish them from the foreign Muslims. Subsequently when the British established their rule, they started calling the local religions collectively under the name of Hinduism."
"Only 180 years ago Raja Ram Mohan Roy coined the word 'Hindu' to describe the huge variety of faiths and sects with similar but not identical philosophies, myths and rituals."
"'Hinduism' refers not to an entity; it is a name that the West has given to a prodigiously variegated series of facts. It is a notion in men's minds--and a notion that cannot but be inadequate. To use this term at all is inescapably a gross oversimplification."
"[There was] no such thing as Hinduism before the British invented the holdall category in the early nineteenth century, and made India seem the home of a 'world religion' as organised and theologically coherent as Christianity and Islam. The concepts of a 'world religion' and 'religion' as we know them now, emerged during the late 18th and early 19th century, as objects of academic study, at a time of widespread secularisation in western Europe. The idea, as inspired by the Enlightenment, was to study religion as a set of beliefs, and to open it up to rational enquiry."
"Hinduism--the word and perhaps the reality too--was born in the 19th century, a notoriously illegitimate child. The father was middle-class and British, and the mother, of course, was India. The circumstances of the conception are not altogether clear. One heard of the 'goodly habits and observances of Hindooism' in a Bengali-English grammar written in 1829, and the Reverend William Tennant had spoken of 'the Hindoo system' in a book on Indian manners and history written at the beginning of the century. Yet it was not until the inexpensive handbook 'Hinduism' was published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1877 that the term came into general English usage."
"According to the New Encyclopedia Britannica 20:581, 'Hinduism' was a name given in English language in the Nineteenth Century by the English people to the multiplicity of the beliefs and faiths of the people of the Indus land. The British writers in 1830 gave the word 'Hinduism' to be used as the common name for all the beliefs of the people of India excluding the Muslims and converted Christians."
"The English term Hinduism was coined by British writers in the first decades of the 19th century and became familiar as a designator of religious ideas and practices distinctive to India with the publication of books such as Hinduism (1877) by Sir Monier Monier-Williams, the notable Oxford scholar and author of an influential Sanskrit dictionary. Initially it was an outsiders’ term, building on centuries-old usages of the word Hindu. Early travelers to the Indus valley, beginning with the Greeks and Persians, spoke of its inhabitants as “Hindu”(Greek: ‘indoi), and, in the 16th century, residents of India themselves began very slowly to employ the term to distinguish themselves from the Turks. Gradually the distinction became primarily religious rather than ethnic, geographic, or cultural."
"According to our ex-President [India] and scholar Dr S Radhakrishnan, the term 'Hindu' had originally a territorial and not credal significance. It implies residence in a well-defined geographical area."
"The word Hinduism is an English word of more recent origin. Hinduism entered the English language in the early 19th century to describe the beliefs and practices of those residents of India who had not converted to Islam or Christianity and did not practice Judaism or Zoroastrianism."
"Just who invented 'Hinduism' first is a matter of scholarly debate. Almost everyone agrees that it was not the Hindus.... As a discrete Indic religion among others, however, 'Hinduism' was probably first imagined by the British in the early part of the nineteenth century to describe (and create and control) an enormously complex configuration of people and their traditions found in the South Asian subcontinent. 'Hinduism' made it possible for the British, and for us all (including Hindus), to speak of a religion when before there was none, or, at best, many."
"It was the Europeans who coined the word 'Hinduism' to denote all the Indian religions except Muslims, Jains, and Buddhists, and the word Hindu was erroneously used for those following the religions and worship under Hinduism."
"Hindus themselves prefer to use the Sanskrit term sanatana dharma for their religious tradition. Sanatana dharma is often translated into English as 'eternal tradition' or 'eternal religion' but the translation of dharma as 'tradition' or 'religion' gives an extremely limited, even mistaken, sense of the word. Dharma has many meanings in Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hindu scripture, including 'moral order,' 'duty,' and 'right action.'"
"It is most striking that people we now call Hindus never used this term to describe themselves. The Vedas, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita, which today are seen by many as the religious texts of the Hindus, do not employ the word Hindu. That term was first used by the Achaemenid Persians to describe all those people who lived on or beyond the banks of the river Sindhu, or Indus. Therefore, at one stage the word Hindu as an ethno-geographic category came to englobe all those who lived in India, without ethnic distinction. It was only under the Muslim rulers of India that the term began to gain a religious connotation. But it was not until colonial times that the term 'Hinduism' was coined and acquired wide currency as referring collectively to a wide variety of religious communities, some of them with distinct traditions and opposed practices. Communities like the Saivites, Vaishvanites, and Lingyats, each with their own history and specific view of the world, were tied together under the blanket category Hinduism."
"The non-Muslim people of the South Asian subcontinent called Hindu had no precise word for their religions. They were, as they are, divided into thousands of communities and tribes, each having its own religious beliefs, rituals, modes of worship, etc. Finding it difficult to get the names of the religions of these communities, the British writers gave them the word 'Hinduism' to be used as a common name for all of their religions in about 1830. Thus the people called Hindus got a common element, at least in word, to be identified as a distinct, single community."
"All scholars agree that the category 'Hinduism' is something created by Orientalists. This obviously does not exclude the existence of an Indian spiritual experience. But at a certain point it was decided to use this label, which during Colonialism became a flag for independence, and after that an attempt was made by the people of India to recognize themselves in a common religion."
"Surprisingly, though Hinduism is a very ancient religion, the word 'Hinduism', which today defines it and distinguishes it from the rest of the religions, is of much later origin. In ancient India you had either a yogi, a bhakta, a tantric, a sanyasi, a sankhya vadin, a vedantin, a lokayata, a rishi, a muni, a pandit, a pragna, a yogini, a devi, a swami, a Saivite, a Vaishnavite, a siddha or Buddha, but no Hindu."
"Unliess by 'Hindu' one means nothing more, nor less, than 'Indian' (something native to, pertaining to, or found within the continent of India), there has never been any such a thing as a single 'Hinduism' or any single 'Hindu community' for all of India. Nor, for that matter, can one find any such thing as a single 'Hinduism' or 'Hindu community' even for any one socio-cultural region of the continent. Furthermore, there has never been any one religion--nor even one system of religious--to which the term 'Hindu' can accurately be applied. No one so-called religion, moreover, can lay exclusive claim to or be defined by the term 'Hinduism'."
"The Supreme Court [of India] in the course of deciding an appeal in an election petition, has interpreted the meaning of 'Hindutva' and 'Hinduism' as a 'synonym of 'Indianisation' -- i.e. development of uniform culture by obliterating the differences between all all cultures co-existing in the country.' The unanimous judgement given by the three-judge bench consisting of Justices J.S. Verma, N.P. Singh and K. Venkataswami, on December 11, 1995, has quoted earlier Supreme Court judgements and opinions of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Toynbee and others in coming to the conclusion that Hinduism represented a way of life."
"The Supreme Court [of India] bench dealt with the meaning of the word 'Hindutva' or 'Hinduism' when used in election propaganda. The court came to the conclusion that the words 'Hinduism' or 'Hindutva' are not necessarily to be understood and construed narrowly, confined only to the strict Hindu religious practices unrelated to the culture and ethos of the People of India depicting the way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract, these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people. Unless the context of a speech indicates a contrary meaning or use, in the abstract, these terms are indicative more of a way of life of the Indian people and are not confined merely to describe persons practicing the Hindu religion as a faith. This clearly means that, by itself, the word 'Hinduism' or 'Hindutva' indicates the culture of the people of India as a whole, irrespective of whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews etc."
"The word 'Hinduism' was coined by European travelers and traders in the 16th century."
"It is interesting to note that the word Hindu is neither Sanskrit nor Dravidian and did not originate in India. It was not used by Indians in their descriptions or writings until the 17th century. If we go by the original definition of the word Hindu, any one who lives in the subcontinent is a Hindu and whatever religion he or she practices is Hinduism. The word Hindu is a secular word and literally translated it means Indian and the word Hinduism denotes any religion or religions that are practiced by the multitude of people living in the land beyond the river Indus."
"It is hard to define Hinduism, let alone defend it. This is the reason when someone asks the question, 'Who is a Hindu or what is Hinduism?' a variety of answers are given. The most appropriate answer perhaps is a long pause and then silence. The confusion that has been propagated in the religion over many centuries has made it prohibitive even to define the word Hinduism."
"Unfortunately Hinduism is represented as monolithic. However, there is no essential Hinduism, no single belief system, and no central authority."
"The Hidden Hindus... include at least 1-2 million non-Indian Americans (Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc.) who practice Yoga, meditation, vegetarianism, believe in reincarnation and karma, study the Vedic scriptures, etc., but who –- despite the fact that they are practicing Sanatana Dharma -- will not call themselves 'Hindu', and do not understand that they are part of an ancient and living religious tradition. We need to do everything in our power to bring these two communities together, to bridge this gap."
"It is well known among scholars of South Asian religion that the word 'Hinduism' is a term of convenience--a blanket name for a wide variety of religious practices, beliefs and worldviews that some times have little common ground beyond their Indian origins. Ironically, Hinduism is not an indigenous word to any of the traditions it labels."
"There are legal pronouncements [in India] that Hindus are Indian citizens belonging to a religion born in India. This means Buddhists, Sikhs or Parsis, even those who did not recognize themselves as Hindus, are to be considered Hindus."
"It should be pointed out that the word 'Hindu' is not found in any of the classical writings of India. Nor can it be traced to the classical Indian languages, such as Sanskrit or Tamil. In fact, the word 'Hinduism' has absolutely no origins within India itself. Still, it persists, and traditions as diverse as Shaivism and Jainism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism, have been described as 'Hinduism.' This may work as a matter of convenience, but ultimately it is inaccurate."
"Hinduism as one of the world religions we know today had only occurred or perceived since the 19th century, when the term 'Hindu-ism' started being used by leaders of Hindu reform movements or revivalists, and, often considered to be biased, Western orientalists or the 'first Indologists'. However it is clearly accepted that sources of Hinduism and the 'streams' which feed in to it are very ancient, extending back to the Indus Valley civilization and earliest expressions of historical Vedic religion. It is not an accepted view that Hinduism is the construction of Western orientalists to make sense of the plurality of religious phenomena originating and based on the Vedic traditions, however some many have suggested it is."
"From the western point of view, the understanding of Hinduism was mediated by Western notions of what religion is and how its relates to more ancient forms of belief. It is further complicated by the frequent use of the term 'faith' as a synonym for 'religion'. Some academics and many practitioners refer to Hinduism with a native definition, as 'Sanātana Dharma', a Sanskrit phrase meaning 'the eternal law' or 'eternal way'."
"Hinduism has one of the most genetically and ethnically diverse body of adherents in the world. It is hard to classify Hinduism as a religion, as the framework, symbols, leaders and books of reference that make up a typical religion are not uniquely identified in the case of Hinduism. Most commonly it can be seen as a 'way of life' which gives rise to many civilized forms of religions. Hinduism, its religious doctrines, traditions and observances are very typical and inextricably linked to the culture and demographics of India."
"Using the overarching term 'Hinduism' for the many religions of India is comparable to ignoring the different religious orientations within each of the Western traditions, arbitrarily merging them under a single banner—'Semitism' (which, like 'Hinduism,' merely denotes geographical location). Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other constitute the diverse religious traditions of the Western world. Just as the term Semitism is too broad and reductionistic to represent properly the unique religious manifestation of the great Western traditions, and just as it would be inappropriate to refer to all these traditions as one religion, the term Hinduism falls short."
"The word Hindu is also not mentioned in holy books, Upanishads, Shashtras and Valmiki Ramayan, Shatpath Brahmin Granth etc. And in these holy books there is not any word Hindus or sects or caste system, where as it is clearly mentioned in every chapter of thereof that there is only one God of the Universe."
"The name Hinduism is a misnomer and of a foreign coinage. Indeed the term Hindu is found nowhere in the Vedic scriptures, nor can it be found in any classical texts of Sanatana Dharma."
"According to Jawaharlal Nehru, the earliest reference to the word 'Hindu' can be traced to a Tantrik book of the eighth century C.E., where the word means a people, and not the followers of a particular religion. The use of the word 'Hindu' in connection with a particular religion is of very late occurrence."
"If you examine ancient Indian history and religion, you will find that the word 'Hindu dharma' is not used to describe what is today called 'Hinduism'."
"The word Hindu is relatively modern and is derived from the word Sindhu which means red. The Arabs called the Sindhu river the Indus river since they could not pronounce the S-sound. Thus, the people west of the Sindhu river came to be known as the Hindus and the country got its name India. The original name for the country was Bharata Varsha - the land of Bharata, the king who ruled the country in ancient times. The true name of the religion is Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana means ancient and eternal. Dharma means moral duty. The word Sanatana Dharma connotes a Universal Way of Life for all living entities."
"As a follower of the religion of santan dharma, I find it offensive that we use the word 'Hinduism'. This term is an illegitimate term that was used to label us by foreign occupiers and aggressors."
"'Hindu' means a person believing in, following or respecting the eternal values of life, ethical and spiritual, which have sprung up in Bharatkhand [India] and includes any person calling himself a Hindu."
"The word 'hindu' is a non-Indian word, it's origin is Persian/Arabic. It's original meaning is 'dog,' 'low life' or 'slave'."
"I wish to state emphatically and categorically that the very word Hinduism is a misnomer. Properly speaking there is no such religion called Hinduism. This great country to which I happen to belong was known from time immemorial as ‘Bharatha’. Even in Bagavat Gita Lord Krishna often addresses Arjuna‘as Bharatha’. The Ancient Country has gone through uncountable vicissitudes. Because, foreign intruders, invaders and travellers had to cross the Indus River before entering this fabulous country (it was so in the past), they began to call its inhabitants of this great and vast land as “Hindus”. This word “Hindu” requires further elaboration. The word for water in Sanskrit is “Sindu” In the Vedas and our Legends we come across such words as “Saptha Sindavaha” which freely translated would mean ‘The Land of Seven Rivers”. While other rivers have been given individual names, this river on the extreme Northwestern border was known as ‘Sindu’. Eventually, Sindu became ‘Hindu’. That is how the intruders, invaders and travellers began to call the original people of the land Hindus."
"The word 'Hindu' means a liar, a slave, a black, an infidel, in short, a man possessed of every evil to be found in the world; while the term Arya means a pious, a learned, a noble, and a wise man, devoted to the true worship of the Eternal. With this explanation, I dare conclude that no man of common sense would like to be called a Hindu, when once he knows its meaning."
"It should be noted that the word 'Hindu' originally referred to any inhabitant of the Indian subcontinent, or Hind, not followers of the religion as it does now."
"If we see in the four thousand years worth of religious literature in India we cannot find a single reference to the word 'Hinduism' anywhere! 'Hinduism' is a word concocted by Europeans to refer to the myriad streams of religious faiths in the land of Hindustan."
"The word 'Hinduism' itself is a geographical term based upon the Sanskrit name for the great river that runs across the northern boundaries of India, known as the Sindhu."
"The word Hinduism is not found in the 'hindu' religion. In fact there is no such thing as the 'hindu' religion."
"The word 'Hinduism' was introduced in the 19th century to define the aggregate beliefs of the Arya, immigrants who left Central Asia in 1500 BC, and animist religions of native populations in India."
"The word 'Hindu' is not found in any Hindu religious text or any other ancient writing. People who lived on the western side of Hindu Kush (killers of Hindus) mountains gave this name to the natives of India. The word Hindu means black, slave, robber, thief and a waylayer."
"Until about 19th century, the term 'Hindu' implied a culture and ethnicity and not religion alone. When the British government started periodic census and established a legal system, need arose to define 'Hinduism' as a clearly-defined religion, along the lines of Christianity or Islam."
"The word 'Hinduism' originated about only 200-300 years ago."
"Beginning around 1000 AD, invading armies from the Middle East called the place beyond the Sindhu 'Hindustan' and the people who lived there the 'Hindus'"
"Today most Western scholars seem resigned to the inconclusiveness of the project of defining Hinduism. Some decline to use the word 'Hinduism' at all, or prefer to use it only in the plural, 'Hinduisms.'"
"At a very early date, Persian explorers entered the Indian subcontinent from the far Northwest. After they returned, they published chronicles. But due to the phonetics of their native Persian language, the 'S' of Sind became an aspirated 'H.' This is how the people of the Indus Valley came to be known generically as 'Hindus' by the Persians. This flawed intonation inevitably stuck. And was later re-imported when the invading Moguls conquered India. Since they always referred to the locals as 'Hindus,' the term was adopted by the Indians themselves as a way of distinguishing native culture from that of the foreign Muslims."
"The word Hinduism was coined by the Muslim scholar Alberuni in the 11th century C.E."
"Various origins for the word 'Hinduism' have been suggested: It may be derived from an ancient inscription translated as: 'The country lying between the Himalayan mountain and Bindu Sarovara is known as Hindusthan by combination of the first letter 'hi' of 'Himalaya' and the last compound letter 'ndu' of the word `Bindu.' Bindu Sarovara is called the Cape Comorin sea in modern times."
"Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialists in the 1830s. This remarkable circumstance is evidenced by the fact that none of the travelers who visited India before English rule used the word 'Hindu'.... This is amply borne out by the Encyclopedia Britannica, which states: 'The term Hinduism ... [was] introduced in about 1830 by British writers.' In other words, the founding father of 'Hinduism' is an Englishman!"
"According to the Hindu Scholars, Hinduism is a misnomer and the religion ‘Hinduism’ should be either referred to as ‘Sanatana Dharma’, which means eternal religion, or as Vedic Dharma, meaning religion of the Vedas. According to Swami Vivekananda, the followers of this religion are referred to as Vendantists."
"The word Hinduism is an incorrect nomenclature, which was coined by the British. Thereafter, it has stuck due to the ignorance of its followers. The term 'ism' refers to an ideology that is to be propagated and by any method imposed on others for e.g. Marxism, socialism, communism, imperialism and capitalism but the Hindus have no such 'ism'. Hindus follow the continuum process of evolution; for the Hindus do not have any unidirectional ideology, therefore, in Hindu Dharma there is no place for any 'ism'. Hindus are democratic in approach, for each individual is free to adopt any philosophy or way to self-realization."
“The word ‘Hindu’ is not a Sanskrit word or nor mentioned in any of the ancient major texts of India. It is believed to be originated from the ancient Persians. The Persians who were shared some common culture with the people of Indian sub-continent used to call the Indus River as ‘Sindhu.’ Due to some linguistic problems, they could not pronounce the letter ‘S’ in their language and started mispronouncing it as ‘H’. Thus they started pronouncing the word Sindhu as Hindu. The ancient Greeks, American and the rest of the world followed the same word and started calling the Indus river valley people as Hindus and gradually the word stuck. Even the word ‘Hindustan’ is not originated from the mouth of any Indian. The Muslim travelers and rulers who came to India during the medieval period called the Indian subcontinent as ‘Hindustan’ and its people as ‘Hindus.’ The British too followed the same words and later they used this name religiously to distinguish Hindus from Muslims and Christians.”
In addition to the question of the nature of the terms "Hindu" and "Hinduism," there is also the question of the dates of the origins of the underlying principles or practices. In other words, presuming that there is, in fact, a "Hinduism" (rather than Dharma or Sanatana Dharma) here are a few quotes listed in date order, which show the diversity of opinions.
1800's CE:
"The British writers in 1830 gave the word 'Hinduism' to be used as the common name for all the beliefs of the people of India excluding the Muslims and converted Christians." "Only 180 years ago Raja Ram Mohan Roy coined the word 'Hindu' Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialists in the 1830s."
1600's CE:
"It is interesting to note that the word Hindu is neither Sanskrit nor Dravidian and did not originate in India. It was not used by Indians in their descriptions or writings until the 17th century."
1500's CE:"The word 'Hinduism' was coined by European travelers and traders in the 16th century."
1000 CE:"The word Hinduism was coined by the Muslim scholar Alberuni in the 11th century C.E."Beginning around 1000 AD, invading armies from the Middle East called the place beyond the Sindhu 'Hindustan' and the people who lived there the 'Hindus'"
600 BCE:"The beginning of Hinduism and the Indian subculture can be dated circa 600 BCE."
1000 BCE:"No one is completely sure of where Hinduism was started and by whom. Their oldest written documents, the Vedas, were written down in 1000 BC."
1500 BCE:"Hinduism was born in India around the year 1500 bc."
1800 BCE:"Hinduism began in India about 1800 B.C.E."
2000 BCE:"Hinduism's roots date back as far as 2000 BC."
2500 BCE:"Hinduism in India is the most primitive religious belief. It dates back to its origin of about 2500 BC."
3000 BCE:"Hinduism is the oldest extant religion dating back to over 3000 BC."
4000 BCE:"Hinduism began in India about 3,500-4,000 B.C." "Hinduism began about 6,000 years ago."
6000 BCE:"Hinduism started in... 6000 BC"
6600 BCE:"Hinduism began somewhere around 6500 BC"
8000 BCE:"Hinduism began in Bharat Varsha (Indian subcontinent) in 8000 BCE."
Although Wikipedia is a collective of opinions from many different people, and is not necessarily authoritative, the Wikipedia description of Hinduism is revealing. Here are a few excerpts from the Wikipedia page on Hinduism:
  • Hindū is the Persian name for the Indus River, first encountered in the Old Persian word Hindu, corresponding to Vedic Sanskrit Sindhu, the Indus River....
  • The term was used for those who lived in the Indian subcontinent on or beyond the "Sindhu"....
  • The Persian term (Middle Persian Hindūk, New Persian Hindū) entered India with the Delhi Sultanate and appears in South Indian and Kashmiri texts from at least 1323 CE, and increasingly so during British rule.
  • Since the end of the 18th century the word has been used as an umbrella term for most of the religious, spiritual, and philosophical traditions of the sub-continent, excluding the distinct religions of Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
  • The term Hindu was introduced to the English. It generally denotes the religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions native to India.
  • Hinduism has been perceived as one of the world religions we know today only since the 19th century, when the term 'Hindu-ism' started being used by leaders of Hindu reform movements or revivalists, and, often considered to be biased, Western orientalists or the "first Indologists".
  • From the western point of view, the understanding of Hinduism was mediated by Western notions of what religion is and how it relates to more ancient forms of belief. It is further complicated by the frequent use of the term "faith" as a synonym for "religion".